The development of Africa’s railways and the revival of its freight rail lines would require a ‘master plan’ to integrate all the development initiatives, Namibian Transport and Works Deputy Minister Samuel Ankama said on Tuesday.
“All rail development programmes that are being contemplated must feed into a master plan,” he stated at a conference in Johannesburg.
He said a programme on corridor transport and trade facilitation must be developed to complement such a master plan. He proposed more efficient ‘one-stop’ border posts to reduce time, while fast-tracking documentation and procedures had to be prioritised.
Ankama explained that to develop Africa’s railways into a fully integrated system, challenges such as failed maintenance and inefficiency had to be tackled.
“We need to move beyond our borders to allow fast and big-scale rail transportation of goods,” he noted.
Ankama added that implementing a master plan would also require supporting infrastructure such as power and information technology.
Further, he urged that a railway plan demanded the support of other modes of transport to achieve true success.
Meanwhile, commenting on attracting private investors to African rail projects, Nigerian Railways Corporation MD Adeseyi Sjuade said countries first had to spend government money to improve railways to a level that was attractive to private investors.
He added that ensuring the commercial viability of a project and establishing the role the government intended to play in terms of a concession would also be crucial.
A legal framework and the right policy and governance also needed to be in place to allow for transparent procurement and evaluation processes that would give potential investors confidence.